Sunday, October 30, 2016

Jing Chi - 2003 "Live"

Jing Chi’s 2001 debut was eagerly anticipated by contemporary jazz fans worldwide. For the most part it satisfied, save for feeling a bit too loose around the edges. One whole point of the project was to explore more open-ended improvisation in an electric fusion context, at which the disc succeeded admirably.
Hindsight is always 20/20, however, and over the ensuing months the power trio worked hard at shaping up the floppy ends. On the evidence of these live sessions from Yoshi’s in Oakland, the extra polishing was more than worthwhile. It no doubt helped that Robben Ford and Jimmy Haslip have been collaborating since the earliest days of Yellowjackets, and that Vinnie Colaiuta is one of America’s most flexible, gifted drummers. Such exemplary musicianship can’t help but pay big dividends in the long run.
Four tunes from the debut are revisited on Live! (“Going Nowhere,” “The Hong Kong Incident,” “Crazy House” and “Stan Key”). “Crazy House” would still benefit from some more solid rhythmic foundation — Colaiuta and Haslip both keep it too sparse to support Ford’s liquid blues lines — but it, like the other return visits, shines more brightly than on the studio release. “Hong Kong” has an eerie Frank Zappa vibe at times, perhaps as a nod to Colaiuta’s former boss, but not entirely derivative. If Ford’s vocals on “Going Nowhere” and an excellent version of Bob Dylan’s “Cold Irons Bound” are somewhat light in spirit, still he sells the product convincingly enough.
The instrumental performances are exactly what familiar listeners would expect. Ford’s guitar work is impeccably tasty and tractable, even on the more outward-looking cuts. Haslip, who produced both recordings for the trio, remains their secret weapon: full of presence when it’s needed, otherwise subtle as a warm breeze. Colaiuta once again distinguishes himself as a key figure in contemporary drumming, turning on a dime to accommodate the many shifts in mood and beat. It’s been said time and again that Tone Center might represent the future of fusion, and this release is one more feather in the label’s cap. Phenomenal.

Jing Chi is what this co-op group is called rather than being a particular musician's name. Guitarist Robben Ford and bassist Jimmy Haslip, who were two of the original members of the Yellowjackets, have a reunion on this set. Part of a core group with drummer Vinnie Colaiuta that is sometimes augmented by keyboardist Otmaro Ruiz, the trio/quartet mostly performs rock-oriented fusion on this live date. Although Ford has gained a strong reputation playing blues, the only extended blues is "Blues MD," which has a guest appearance from former Yellowjacket altoist Marc Russo. Overall, the musicians play well (with Ford taking two vocals), but the individual selections are not all that memorable and the music is much more rockish than expected, making this set of primary interest for fans of the fusion side of Robben Ford.

Okay, I admit. I’m a bit biased. But how can anyone, with a straight face, say any guitarist is making more, or better music than Robben Ford?
I won’t list the stuff he’s worked on in the past five years, but if you include all of his band and studio material, along with his great solo albums, it’s an amazing body of work.
Basically, he’s what we’d all like to be – a player who gets into various musical situations he likes and just plays his heart out. Plus, it also helps to have his chops.
Jing Chi, for those of you not familiar, is a fusion trio, featuring Ford, bassist Jimmy Haslip, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. The trio put out a studio album last year that was just wonderful.
Here they add keyboardist Otmaro Ruiz and on one cut saxophonist Marc Russo. The nice thing about this setting for Robben is the chance to stretch out. And, he does. And in doing so, he again shows how original and imaginative he is. Whether it’s plain old-fashioned fusion, mixed with a little blues(“That Road”), rock-based fusion that brings Cream to mind(“The Hong Kong Incident”), jazzy-blues(“Blues MD”), or spacey rock with a nice vocal(“Going Nowhere”), Robben shows why he’s one of the best, not just today, but in the modern history of guitar.
There are two vocal cuts mixed in with the six instrumentals. Robben handles the vocals on both. One of them is the aforementioned “Going Nowhere.” The other is the very cool, funky rock cover of Bob Dylan’s “Cold Irons Bound.” It’s pretty straight-ahead with a monster solo from Ford.
As you’d expect, all of the playing great. Haslip is as steady a bassist as you’ll find for this kind of stuff. Nothing fancy, but just a monster at giving the songs a huge base to be built upon. Same goes for Colaiuta. Just a marvelous player. Ruiz also proves to be a fine addition. In fact, his interplay with Ford gives the record some of its finest moments.
This one’s a must for fans of Robben, or just great guitar playing. It almost becomes an embarrassment of riches after awhile. He is, in my humble opinion, as good as there is working out there today.

Great live fusion with extended jams featuring a great power trio--guitarist extraordinaire Robben Ford, drummer's drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, and Yellowjacket's bassist Jimmy Haslip--assisted ably by Otmaro Ruiz on keyboards and Marc Russo on sax. This disc contains 4 tracks from the studio-recorded version of Jing Chi (Going Nowhere, The Hong Kong Incident, Stan Key, and Crazy House), and 4 new tracks (That Road, What Goes Around, Cold Irons Bound, and Blues MD). Overall the cd has a little more bluesy and not quite as "hard" a feel to it as the studio version. As you'd expect with such a cast of characters, this is great stuff. 

 Track listing:

  1. That Road
  2. Going Nowhere
  3. The Hong Kong Incident
  4. Stan Key
  5. What Goes Around
  6. Crazy House
  7. Cold Irons Bound
  8. Blues MD


    Robben Ford - Guitar, Vocal
    Jimmy Haslip - Bass
    Vinnie Colaiuta - Drums
    Otmaro Ruiz - Keyboards
    Marc Russo - Alto Saxophone (tracks: 8)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Danny Gatton - 1992 "New York Stories"

Danny Gatton (September 4, 1945 – October 4, 1994) was an American guitarist who fused rockabilly, jazz, and country to create his own distinctive style. When Rolling Stone magazine selected the 100 Greatest Guitarists of all Time in 2003, senior editor David Fricke ranked Gatton 63rd on his ballot.[1] On May 26, 2010, ranked Gatton as the 27th best guitarist of all time

This interesting outing by an all-star group (guitarist Danny Gatton, altoist Bobby Watson, trumpeter Roy Hargrove, Joshua Redman on tenor, pianist Franck Amsallem, bassist Charles Fambrough and drummer Yuron Israel) is most notable for featuring the brilliant Gatton in a jazz setting. Together the septet, performs nine originals by group members and Gatton and Watson emerge as the main solo stars. Despite its somewhat generic name, this advanced hard bop date is quite memorable.

This is EXACTLY what I think of when I think of New York style jazz. As you listen to it, you feel as if you are cruising in a cab on a rain-drenched night in Manhattan, off to meet some classy lady for a night on the town. The line-up is superb: Danny Gatton on guitar, showing off his jazz licks with his unique rockabilly spice; amazing trumpet playing by Lee Hargrove; delightful and tasteful Joshua Redman on tenor sax; plus others. Every single cat is WAILING on this release. Look for incredible ensemble playing in the horns, presenting that big, New York banner sound. Get it soon, if you can find it!

The guitarist is Danny Gatton, and though I suppose there could be some people who don't like his guitar playing, he was one of those under-appreciated guitar geniuses who could play any style, and could fuse any styles -- thus he was impossible to pigeonhole or market in the contemporary music world. His playing on this album is brilliant, and I would argue than anyone who believes jazz "requires" a hollow-body guitar hasn't really listened.

I should point out, in the context of the guitar discussion above, that this is really an ensemble piece by a group of master musicians -- Danny Gatton's guitar is not really featured any more (well, maybe a little) than Franck Amsallem's piano, and the album wouldn't be as good as it is without the the horn section of Bobby Watson, Roy Hargrove, and Joshua Redman, the bass of Charles Fambrough, and the drums of Yuron Israel. Of the 9 tracks, 3 were composed by Gatton, 2 by Watson, and 1 each by Fambrough, Amsallem, Israel, and Hargrove -- to the extent that any one person can be said to have "composed" a piece in what was intended to be an old-style Blue Note jam session.

This CD is timeless and an absolute classic. It has to rate as one of my top 5 -- maybe *the* top -- jazz albums ever. The playing, the production, and the overall recording quality are superb. A look at what people are charging for used copies of this CD will indicate how much it's treasured by those who know it.

Already legendary for his country and rock and roll guitar mastery, the late Danny Gatton also released a pure jazz CD on Blue Note, "New York Stories." If there was any doubt that this incredible musician was capable of any style, any time, any place, this CD will put those doubts to rest and we will continue to mourn and lament the passing of one of the greatest guitarists in history. His suicide was provoked according to some theories by his poor record sales, and what a shame.

"New York Stories" is actually a jazz combo effort with Gatton writing all or part of the tunes and sharing his time with a stellar piano and horn section. This is a jam session, and according to the liner notes, a limited amount of rehearsal was allowed to keep the tunes fresh and to allow the improvisational juices to flow.

It's smooth - so much so you almost want to take up smoking and don a fedora while you listen. It harkens back to the smoky dangerous days of the '40's and '50's, where down and dirty jazz emanated from grimy clubs in the bad parts of town. Yet at times the music is ethereal, such as the guitar tour de force "One For Lenny" that closes the CD.

The style here is reminiscent of Miles Davis' early years, ala "Walking" and "Someday My Prince Will Come" and perhaps a little Brubeck piano and sax tradeoffs.

Even rockers will appreciate the mastery on this session. "New York Stories" goes down like a cool drink on a hot summer afternoon, welcome as a surprise snowfall in July would be. 

Danny was such a great player; he often sounded like two. If I hadn't been there, I'd be looking for the open second track, particularly on One for Lenny. Having always been a fan of Five O'Clock Bells and Mo' Breau (also produced by Doyle) it was like he was channeling Lenny. Doyle was always good at throwing people together, like the night he got SRV to drop by on one of Johnny's records. But he really outdid himself on this group. Fambrough had a record on the jazz charts at the time, and Bobby Watson had obviously been around but some of the other guys were just starting out. "Who's that kid?" "That's Dewey Redman's son, man!"

You know what else? Danny was also a really nice, quiet, unassuming guy for someone so talented. The Tele did the talking. I asked him to sign my copy of Elmira St. (which lost the Grammy to Eric Johnson that year. I mean, that had to hurt! Any other year... Think about it; if he won, would he still be here today?)

Anyway, he signed it, "Thanks a mil, Danny Gatton" I wish I had that on this record, but of course it didn't exist at the time. And unfortunately, I never saw him again.

 Track Listing:

  1. Dolly's Ditty
  2. Wheel Within A Wheel
  3. Ice Maidens
  4. Out A Day
  5. Mike The Cat
  6. The Move
  7. A Clear Thought
  8. 5/4
  9. One For Lenny


Danny Gatton (guitar),
Bobby Watson (alto saxophone),
Joshua Redman (saxophone),
Roy Hargrove (trumpet),
Franck Amsallem (keyboards), 
Charles Fambrough (bass),
Yoron Israel (drums)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Jing Chi - 2004 "3D"

The third release of the blues/jazz/fusion supergroup Jing Chi is an amazing mixture of the aforementioned music.3D’ brings together again blues guitarist Robben Ford, bassist Jimmy Haslip of the Yellowjackets and Zappa drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. These three veteran musicians together is just a great musical combination.
Just like Jing Chi’s previous releases; their self-titled debut album and their live album, these guys are always putting out an outstanding and distinctive sound. You can tell that with each CD they release they sound better each time. This disc in my opinion, is their best to date. From the opening track ‘Colonel Panic’ to the final number ‘Wires Tangled Up’this disc will blow you away. There’s also a guest vocal by blues great Robert Cray on ‘It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine’. This disc has me looking forward for the next one. Check it out!

Following a 2003 release, Live at Yoshi’s , which leaned a little more towards the jazz side of the jazz-rock fence, Jing Chi returns with 3D , a pounding affair that places itself more firmly in the rock camp, influenced strongly by power groups from the late ‘60s and ‘70s including Cream, Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies, Led Zeppelin and even shades of the more guitar-centric period of mid-‘70s King Crimson.

That’s not to say that Jing Chi—guitarist Robben Ford, bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta—forgets about jazz altogether. “Hidden Treasure,” featuring guest organist Larry Goldings, has some precedent in the Tony Williams Lifetime, although the sound is much cleaner, assertive without being as aggressive. But tunes like “Colonel Panic,” “Mezzanine Blues,” “Time Is A Magazine” and, in particular, “Tangled Up,” with its almost anthemic power chords and head-banging riff, clearly come more from Jimmy Page than Jim Hall.
Still, as vengeful as Jing Chi gets on 3D , there are some constants that carry over from the earlier records, in particular a virtuoso style of playing that still manages to avoid excess, remaining wholly musical. Ford is too tasteful a guitarist to become caught up in too much bombast; even when he kicks it with abandon on “Tangled Up,” screaming with his wah-wah pedal and overdriven tones, strong melodies abound and a certain singing quality is never too far away. And on the extended jam version of the Blind Willie Johnson tune, “It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” Ford confidently exchanges blues licks with guest guitarist/vocalist Robert Cray.
While the overall tone is heavy, there is some respite. “Chi Town” is a relaxed shuffle that brings to mind some of Jeff Beck’s fusion work. “Move On,” with its clean, sweet guitar and insistent, driving rhythm section, brings to mind some of the great guitar bands of the early ‘60s, including Hank Marvin and The Shadows. That Ford should choose to evoke The Shadows demonstrates just how broad his knowledge is, given that Marvin was hugely influential on Page, Beck and a host of other British guitar gods to come.
The only real misstep on the record is Haslip’s use of textural interludes that act as segues between tracks. Apparently inspired by Brian Eno’s ambient works, they don’t succeed in tying together the different tunes, and provide no sense of context or warm-up for what is to come. Still, fans of Jing Chi’s previous records will find much to appreciate with 3D , and those who like their fusion more closely affiliated with rock will be pleasantly surprised by Jing Chi’s move in that direction.

Track Listing:

1 Colonel Panic
2 Chi Town
3 Move On
4 Hidden Treasure
5 Time Is a Magazine
6 Mezzanine Blues
7 Blues Alley
8 It's Nobody's Fault But Mine
9 Tangled Up


Vinnie Colaiuta (drums, cymbals, logic and reason programming),
Robben Ford (guitar),
Jimmy Haslip (bass, programming, synths, tambourine)

Special Guests:

Judd Miller (sound design, EVI),
Steve Tavaglione (sound design, EWI),
Robert Cray (guitar, vocals)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Ray Barretto - 2007 "Que Viva La Música"

Produced only a short time after his death, Ray Barretto's A Man and His Music tells the story of a young conguero who went from sitting in on New York's after-hours jam sessions to becoming a Latin music household name, the most influential conguero of his lifetime. It's a long story, spanning better than 45 years and quite a few records, and it's surprising that the Fania label could cram it into a two-disc set. Beginning in his boogaloo years, with famous cuts like "El Watusi" and "Soul Drummers," the collection demonstrates that Barretto's habits of rule-breaking and genre-fusing were obviously formed early. These tracks show a sophistication that the majority of the boogaloo genre did not share. Moving on to Barretto's salsa/Latin jazz experimentation, "Abidjan" and "The Other Road" are a testament to his ongoing creativity. There are, of course, a number of his indispensable hits included, like "Indestructible," "Vale Mas un Guaguanco," and "Guarare." The absence of any of Barretto's genuine jazz work is noticeable and curious, but considering the source of this collection (Fania), that is understandable, if somewhat disappointing. There are guaranteed to be more than a few collections put together immortalizing the late, great master conguero/bandleader. For those who favor his salsa side, A Man and His Music is sure to please.

Well-known in jazz circles for his early work as a ubiquitous sideman with the likes of Gene Ammons, Kenny Burrell, Lou Donaldson and Red Garland and for fronting his own world class Latin jazz ensemble during the final decades of his life, conguero Ray Barretto was equally important as one of the leading figures in the AfroCuban music commonly known as salsa. Affectionately known as "Hard Hands ("Manos Duras ), Barretto also had a sensitive finger on the pulse of the Puerto Rican community and his many albums for the Fania label during the '60s-70s were central to the soundtrack that accompanied the rising consciousness and pride of his people.

The two-CD set Que Viva La Musica chronicles Barretto's impressive artistry during that revolutionary era, with the first disc focusing primarily on his work melding Latin music with elements of AfroAmerican progressive pop and soul and the second documenting his popular advancements within the traditional Latin dance music genre. The first disc begins with several tracks of Barretto's pre-Fania work for Tico and UA Latino, starting with 1962's "El Watusi (the conguero's Billboard-charting Gold Record) and progressing through a history of his crossover hits, with lyrics in both Spanish and English. Reflecting the influences of James Brown, Sly Stone and Motown, the disc is a gumbo of dance party music that rocked the barrios of New York for more than a decade and although most of the songs on the set could be described as period pieces, many of them are ripe for reevaluation. The music on disc two, on the other hand, is timeless in every sense of the word; as relevant and innovative as when they were first recorded. Each of the program's 13 cuts ("El Hijo De Obatala , "Guarare and the title track, to name a few) is a classic featuring driving rhythms and socially powerful lyrics with soaring horn solos that should satisfy the most demanding of jazz listeners.

Barretto himself was an avid discophile who learned much observing jazz producers and engineers and his own productions were of the highest quality. Indestructible (1973) is one of his greatest albums, with pristine sound that allows one to hear the subtle intricacies of the Latin rhythm section. With wonderfully virile lead vocals by Tito Allen and coros from Hector Lavoe and Willie Colon (among others) the Spanish lyrics ring out with a power that even those who do not understand them can feel. The band—jazz soloists like Artie Webb and Manny Duran on flute and flugelhorn, pyrotechnical trumpeters Roberto Rodriguez and "Papy Roman and a smoking rhythm section with pianist Edy Martinez out front—is one of Barretto's strongest units. The music flows through an engaging sequence of songs whose varied forms and rhythms are well-explained in Bobby Sanabria's illuminating liner notes.

In addition to his work as a leader, Barretto was a founding member of the Fania All-Stars, the legendary Latin super group that traveled the world spreading the gospel of salsa in stadium concerts. Live at the Red Garter, Vol. 1 & 2 documents the band's 1968 inaugural performance at the intimate Greenwich Village club that would later become The Bottom Line. The band under the direction of flutist/percussionist Johnny Pacheco consisted of a revolving cast of characters that included pianist Larry Harlow and trombonist Willie Colon and also featured guest artists Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri. Barretto is heard throughout and his composition "Son Cuero Y Boogaloo kicks off the second volume, but the jam-session-like atmosphere and the less-than-perfect sound stand in contrast to the conguero's own excellently produced dates.

The late great Ray Barretto's recordings for the Tico and Fania labels represent an extremely important chapter in the history of Salsa and this compilation offers a fine (if incomplete) overview of his illustrious career. Hopefully, Emusica Records (Fania's new owner) will reissue all of Ray's Tico and Fania CDs. Most of his major hits and trademark tunes are here and no self-serving Barretto fan should be without this great compilation.

Track listing:

Disc 1
01     El Watusi    2:40    
02     El Bantu    2:18    
03     Senor 007    2:13    
04     Do You Dig It    2:29    
05     Soul Drummers    3:50    
06     Hard Hands    2:27    
07     Together    2:36    
08     Right On    2:45    
09     Acid    5:06    
10     Abidjan    4:50    
11     Power    6:09    
12     The Other Road    6:03        
13     Lucretia the Cat    5:35    
14     Cocinando    10:09
15     Arrepientete    5:15    
Disc 2
01     Que Viva La Musica    5:28    
02     La Pelota    4:17    
03     Indestructible    4:14    
04     El Hijo De Obatala    5:03    
05     Guarare    5:37    
06     Vale Mas Un Guaguanco    4:21    
07     Ya Vez    5:43    
08     Tu Propio Dolor    4:13    
09     Fuerza Gigante    4:41    
10     Rhythm of Life 6:37    
11     Manos Duras 5:12    
12     Prestame Tu Mujer 6:14    
13     Aguadilla 4:09 

Traffic - 1968 [1988] "Traffic"

Traffic was an English rock band, formed in Birmingham in 1967. The group formed in April 1967 by Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood and Dave Mason. They began as a psychedelic rock group and diversified their sound through the use of instruments such as keyboards like the Mellotron and harpsichord, sitar, and various reed instruments, and by incorporating jazz and improvisational techniques in their music. Their first three singles were "Paper Sun", "Hole in My Shoe", and "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush".
After disbanding in 1969, during which time Winwood joined Blind Faith, Traffic reunited in 1970 to release the critically acclaimed album John Barleycorn Must Die. The band's line-up varied from this point until they disbanded again in 1975. A partial reunion, with Winwood and Capaldi, took place in 1994.

 Traffic is the second studio album by the English rock band Traffic, released in 1968 on Island Records in the United Kingdom as ILP 981T (mono)/ILPS 9081T (stereo), and United Artists in the United States, as UAS 6676 (stereo). It peaked at number 9 in the UK albums chart and at number 17 on the Billboard 200. It was the last album recorded by the group before their initial breakup.

In January 1968, after some initial success in Britain with their debut album Mr. Fantasy, Dave Mason had departed from the group. He produced the debut album by the group Family, containing in its ranks future Traffic bass player Ric Grech, while Traffic went on the road. In May, the band had invited Mason back to begin recording the new album.
Mason ended up writing and singing half of the songs on the album (including his biggest hit "Feelin' Alright?"), but making scant contribution to the songs written by Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood. His flair for pop melody had always been at odds with the others' jazz ambitions, evidenced by the dichotomy seen for the songs on this album, and by October he was again out of the band. He would return one more time for a tour and album in 1971 to run out the band's contract.
Traffic was reissued for compact disc in the UK on 11 January 2000, with five bonus tracks, two from the soundtrack to the United Artists film Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and three from Last Exit. In the US, the remastered reissue of 27 February 2001 included mono single mixes of "You Can All Join In," "Feelin' Alright?," and "Withering Tree." The original album was produced by Jimmy Miller. The remasters were assisted in their production by Jim Capaldi.

After dispensing with his services in December 1967, the remaining members of Traffic reinstated Dave Mason in the group in the spring of 1968 as they struggled to write enough material for their impending second album. The result was a disc evenly divided between Mason's catchy folk-rock compositions and Steve Winwood's compelling rock jams. Mason's material was the most appealing both initially and eventually: the lead-off track, a jaunty effort called "You Can All Join In," became a European hit, and "Feelin' Alright?" turned out to be the only real standard to emerge from the album after it started earning cover versions from Joe Cocker and others in the 1970s. Winwood's efforts, with their haunting keyboard-based melodies augmented by Chris Wood's reed work and Jim Capaldi's exotic rhythms, work better as musical efforts than lyrical ones. Primary lyricist Capaldi's words tend to be impressionistic reveries or vague psychological reflections; the most satisfying is the shaggy-dog story "Forty Thousand Headmen," which doesn't really make any sense as anything other than a dream. But the lyrics to Winwood/Capaldi compositions take a back seat to the playing and Winwood's soulful voice. As Mason's simpler, more direct performances alternate with the more complex Winwood tunes, the album is well-balanced. It's too bad that the musicians were not able to maintain that balance in person; for the second time in two albums, Mason found himself dismissed from the group just as an LP to which he'd made a major contribution hit the stores. Only a few months after that, the band itself split up, but not before scoring their second consecutive Top Ten ranking in the U.K.; the album also reached the Top 20 in the U.S., breaking the temporarily defunct group stateside.

Considering that Traffic couldn't seem to stay intact for more than a few months at a time, the band's work seems even more remarkable. Recorded in the summer of 1968 and released later that fall, Traffic, the band's sophomore release, stands as the outfit's high-water mark and one of the great rock albums of its time. Clearly, Dave Mason and Steve Winwood had completely different visions for the band, both musically and socially. In fact, Mason had already left the band at the year's beginning, only to return a few short months later. Mason liked to work alone and favored rooted folk-tinged material; Winwood saw the band as a communal affair and leaned toward progressive jazz-influenced music. Of course, the synthesis of these two approaches is what makes Traffic such a terrific album. There's not a weak moment across these 10 songs (augmented on this reissue with three mono single mixes). By fusing bits of country and folk, wisps of psychedelia, and elements of jazz and soul, the album managed to both presage and summarize the ambitious developments of rock music during its most creative era.

Traffic had one of the most original (and interesting) sounds in British rock, and not only because of their eclectic musical influences, which embraced psychedelia, folk, jazz, soul, R&B, and even classical. Their unique sound was also the result of their unusual instrumentation. While the group went through a number of personnel changes, its constant core members were Steve Winwood (vocals, keyboards, guitars), Chris Wood (sax, flute, and organ), and Jim Capaldi (drums & percussion). With no regular bass player, Winwood often filled in with the bass pedals on his organ. And, while there is no lack of guitars on most Traffic recordings, the guitar is not emphasized or particularly important to the group's sound. Dave Mason came and went in their early years and, on other recordings, Steve Winwood would switch to guitar, with Chris Wood taking over organ duties. In short, Traffic was anything but your typical guitar-bass-drums rock outfit. And, with "white Ray Charles" prodigy Winwood at the helm, and with their willingness to experiment with virtually any sound or musical style, they cut some of the most distinctive and important records in British rock.
Their sophomore album, "Traffic," perfected the band's sound, and stands as one of the best albums in British rock. Psychedelic influences were still evident, but gone was the silly "Sgt. Pepper"-style trippiness of "Mr. Fantasy." Instead, Winwood and Capaldi perfected their jazzy take on psychedelic-soul, while Dave Mason turned in by far his best contributions with the group. Mason's "You Can All Join In" and "Feelin' Alright" (later popularized by Joe Cocker) are folk-rock gems, while Winwood's genius shines through on the whimsical but very funky "Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring" and the swampy jungle-rock epic "40,000 Headmen." Furthermore, in contrast with the cut-n-paste nature of Traffic's other LPs with Dave Mason, here there is real collaboration, as when a Mason folk-rocker climaxes with Winwood's soulful wailing on the refrain or the bridge ("Don't Be Sad," "Cryin' To Be Heard"). The overall result is a delicious paradox: a recording that is wildly eclectic, yet artistically cohesive.
If you haven't heard "Traffic," all I can say is, you don't know what you're missing.

Traffic was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

  Track Listing:

  1. You Can All Join In
  2. Pearly Queen
  3. Don't Be Sad
  4. Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring
  5. Feelin' Alright
  6. Vagabond Virgin
  7. Forty Thousand Headmen
  8. Cryin' to be Heard
  9. No Time To Live
  10. Means To An End


Dave Mason – lead vocals, guitar, harmonica
Steve Winwood – electric guitar, bass, backing vocals, organ, piano
Chris Wood –  saxophone, flute
Jim Capaldi – drums, percussion, backing vocals

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Joe Satriani - 1987 "Surfing With The Alien"

Surfing with the Alien is the second studio album by American rock guitarist Joe Satriani. It was released on October 15, 1987, by Relativity Records. The album is one of Satriani's most successful to date and helped establish his reputation as a respected rock guitarist.

Released on October 15, 1987, by Relativity Records, Surfing with the Alien charted at number 29 on the Billboard 200, proving to be Satriani's third highest-charting album in the United States. It remained on Billboard 200 for 75 weeks, the longest run of any of his releases.\Surfing with the Alien was certified Gold on February 17, 1989, and Platinum on February 3, 1992, having shipped one million copies in the US. It was Satriani's first and only album to earn platinum certification.
Two singles from the album reached Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart: "Satch Boogie" at No. 22 and "Surfing with the Alien" at No. 37. A third single, "Always with Me, Always with You", received a nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Performance at the 1989 Grammy Awards, while the album itself was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the same event; these being Satriani's first two of many such awards. Live versions of "Always with Me, Always with You" would later be nominated for Best Rock Instrumental twice more, at the 2002 and 2008 Grammys.
In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau snidely referred to Satriani as "the latest guitar god" and felt he is too much of a formalist, because he not only composes but edits his guitar melodies: "Thus he delivers both the prowess cultists demand and the comfort they secretly crave". In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine was more impressed by his technical abilities and praised Surfing with the Alien, writing that it "can be seen as the gold standard for guitar playing of the mid- to late '80s, an album that captures everything that was good about the glory days of shred." According to The Rolling Stone Album Guide (1992), the record "put Satriani on the map. Beautifully played and well-paced, it manages to capture all the icy fire of fusion jazz without losing any of the visceral power of rock & roll".

Surfing with the Alien belongs to its era like Are You Experienced? belongs to its own -- perhaps it doesn't transcend its time the way the Jimi Hendrix Experience's 1967 debut does, but Joe Satriani's 1987 breakthrough can be seen as the gold standard for guitar playing of the mid- to late '80s, an album that captures everything that was good about the glory days of shred. Certainly, Satriani was unique among his peers in that his playing was so fluid that his technical skills never seemed like showboating -- something that was somewhat true of his 1986 debut, Not of This Earth, but on Surfing with the Alien he married this dexterity to a true sense of melodic songcraft, a gift that helped him be that rare thing: a guitar virtuoso who ordinary listeners enjoyed. Nowhere is this more true than on "Always with Me, Always with You," a genuine ballad -- not beefed up with muscular power chords but rather sighing gently with its melody -- but this knack was also evident on the ZZ Top homage "Satch Boogie" and the title track itself, both of which turned into rock radio hits. This melodic facility, plus his fondness for a good old-fashioned three-chord rock, separated Satriani from his shredding peers in 1987, many of whom were quite literally his students. But he was no throwback: he equaled his former students Steve Vai and Kirk Hammett in sweep picking and fretboard acrobatics and he had a sparkling, spacy quality to some of his songs -- particularly the closing stretch of the Middle Eastern-flavored "Lords of Karma," the twinkling "Midnight," and "Echo" -- that was thoroughly modern for 1987. The production of Surfing with the Alien is also thoroughly of its year -- stiff drumbeats, sparkling productions -- so much so that it can seem a bit like a relic from another era, but it's fine that it doesn't transcend its time: it captures the best of its era and is still impressive in that regard. 

The future of guitar playing arrived in stores in October 1987, courtesy of Joe Satriani’s epochal second album, and de facto public coming out party, Surfing With the Alien.

Before the album’s release, the Long-Island-bred, San Francisco-dwelling Satriani (Satch, to his friends) was a relative unknown to the average music fan, but a highly respected guitar teacher behind the scenes, responsible for honing the skills of all-star pupils such as Metallica’s Kirk, Primus’ Larry LaLonde, Testament’s Alex Skolnick, Counting Crows’ David Bryson, Third Eye Blind’s Kevin Cadogan, jazz-guitar wunderkind Charlie Hunter, and eventual biggest champion, protégé and peer, Steve Vai.

Somewhere between devising lesson plans and undertaking brief stints with local groups (including a quick pass through Greg Khin’s band), a modest solo career was born, and after cutting his teeth on a 1984 demo EP and 1986’s formative full-length debut, Not of This Earth, the already 30-year-old Satriani was finally ready for his close-up.

This became Surfing With the Alien, which, on its way to achieving platinum U.S. sales transformed Satriani from best-kept secret to the acknowledged fastest draw in town – the six-string gunslinger any would-be guitar hero simply had to challenge to earn his own stripes, never mind what the album also did to put instrumental music back on the rock ‘n’ roll map.

In a conspicuously Italian-American partnership involving producer John Cuniberti and drummer Jeff Campitelli, Surfing witnessed Satch striking upon a “golden songwriting ratio” of sorts, which entailed the creation of mesmerizing musical beds – rhythms, chord sequences, etc. – over which Joe could then vamp all over the fretboard, completely untethered by more conventional commercial restrictions.

The final pinch of pixie dust genius was of course slapping the Silver Surfer on the album cover. Trust us, Satch had no intention of winding up bald as a cue ball (and the Surfer) way back in 1987. But in an era when his modest amount of charisma was clearly no match for over-the-top showmen like David Lee Roth, and Axl Rose, presenting his otherworldly musical vision in the guise of Marvel Comics’ most enigmatic and philosophical hero was a stroke of genius. The ploy, if one could even call it that, quite literally established him as the ultimate super (guitar) hero.

And so it’s not surprising that, for many, Surfing With the Alien played like an animated movie of the mind’s eye, driven by Satriani’s evocative soundtrack, and held in check only by each listener’s wildest imagination. Personally, my mental movie for side one, at least, played something like a day-in-the-life chronicle for a future deep space citizen. Along with the muddled conversations that introduced it, the opening title track’s frantic pace and blindsiding solo runs suggested a busy rush hour space port; the comparatively sedate, almost thumb-twiddling tolerant “Ice 9″ the ensuing daily commute; the alternately spirited and despairingly moody “Crushing Day” the highs and lows of 9-5 grind in between; the sublime “Always With Me, Always With You” a wistful daydream of life back on the protagonist’s home planet; and the jazz-cum-blues-on-steroids “Satch Boogie” that tall, stiff drink and short-tempered bar-brawling to cap another hard day.

Side two inspired less interconnected images, by comparison, but after seemingly paying circumspect lip service to his many metalhead students via the ominous “Hill of the Skull,” Satch embarked on another batch of sensual and seductive mini-adventures taking in the exotic orbiting arpeggios of “Circles,” the (probably faux-) sitar flourishes of “Lords of Karma,” Spanish-flavored string tapping of “Midnight” and, finally, the atmospheric stratospheric extrapolations of “Echo.” It feels like a trip for an album lasting under forty minutes and yet traveling thousands of light years.

And heck, even if the mental movie didn’t play for everyone, Surfing With the Alien still sounded of a piece as an album-length listening experience, and for all the guitarist’s subsequent triumphs working within and beyond its template, Surfing remains the fundamental measuring stick by which all instrumental rock guitar records are still considered all these years on – and may continue to do so for decades to follow. At the end of the day, Satch is still teaching, it would seem, only on a much grander scale.

Track listing:

All music composed by Joe Satriani.

1.     "Surfing with the Alien"       4:25
2.     "Ice 9"       4:00
3.     "Crushing Day"       5:14
4.     "Always with Me, Always with You"       3:22
5.     "Satch Boogie"       3:13
6.     "Hill of the Skull"       1:48
7.     "Circles"       3:28
8.     "Lords of Karma"       4:48
9.     "Midnight"       1:42
10.     "Echo"       5:37

Total length: 37:37


Joe Satriani – guitar, keyboard, drum programming, percussion, bass, arrangement, production
Bongo Bob Smith – drum programming, percussion, sound design
Jeff Campitelli – drums, percussion
John Cuniberti – percussion, engineering, remastering (reissue), production

Various Artists - 1993 Sacred Sources 1 - "Live Forever"

Any compilation put together by Carlos Santana has got obvious potential, and Sacred Sources I: Live Forever manages to live up to the hype of its title as well as Hal Miller's preachy liner notes. A collection of live material from a diverse bunch of legendary musicians -- Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and John Coltrane -- Live Forever ranges in audio quality from clean (the Hendrix and Vaughan cuts) to very, very spotty (Coltrane's "Ogunde"), but all is forgiven with the high standard of the performances, most of which were previously unreleased until now. While purists may fret over the stylistic degrees of separation between, say, Coltrane and Vaughan, Live Forever has a remarkably continuous feel to it, and that's exactly Santana's point: eventually, the lines between jazz, blues, rock, reggae, and R&B begin to blur and the music is just plain good.

Santana Pays His Respects.

Intriguing release from Carlos Santana’s short-lived boutique label, Guts & Grace. According to the liner notes, Santana himself petitioned the estates of the participants to secure these, at-the-time, previously unreleased (in their entirety, anyway) live recordings. You get about 10 minutes from each artist, less from Coltrane, more from Hendrix. The sound quality is a varied bag, however, with Coltrane’s “Ogunde” faring the worst. The Stevie Ray track comes from his final 1990 tour, while readers tell us the Hendrix comes from 1970, at the Berkeley Community Theatre. It’s all obviously a labor of love for Santana, as he gathers together some of the inspirations that have gone into his own heady fusion of jazz, blues & rock. Sadly, a Vol. 2 never appeared.

Carlos Santana is unusual both for the passion of his music making, and also for the voraciousness of his listening. Carlos is a music junkie. He collects tapes from street musicians and jazz icons alike - anything, as Carlos puts it, "from the heart, for the heart." His knowledge is extensive - as is his collection - and devoid of pretention.

We get the benefit of both with Live Forever. The first release on Carlos' Guts & Grace label, it's also the first in his personally curated anthology series, Sacret Sources. With Live Forever, Carlos decided to compile outstanding concert performances from the last tours of Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Bob Marley, Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Coltrane.

With the exception of Marvin's "Joy", none of this music has ever been released in its entirety. About a minute of "Ogunde" and two minutes of "I don't live today" have been available on CD and video respectively. All the rest is only available on this collection. In several cases, the music was entrusted directly to Carlos by the artists' heirs. In others, fellow collectors sent tapes, which Carlos the cleared with the relevant estates. And finally, in all cases, the artists' record companies gave their gracious permission for this release to occur.

The recording quality is occasionally far from perfect - several selections were mastered from mixing-board cassettes - but the emotional qualities are unassailable throughout.

Since Carlos has more great anthology ideas, there will be more volumes of Sacred Sources. Live Forever makes a spectacular beginning.

For us hardcore Stevie Ray Vaughan fans, there's a great live version of "Riviera Paradise" on here. Since a live version appears nowhere else on CD, this is a must. Source is from his last tour in 1990. Also will please Hendrix, Bob Marley fans alike.

Great performances of all the late great legends! Some rough sounding recordings but overall worth the money for the cd itself.


1. Jimi Hendrix - Message to love 4:56
2. Jimi Hendrix - Fire 3:47
3. Jimi Hendrix - I don't live today 5:10
4. Marvin Gaye - Joy 5:14
5. Marvin Gaye - What's going on 5:50
6. Bob Marley - Natural mystic 4:49
7. Bob Marley - Exodus 6:58
8. Stevie Ray Vaughan - Riviera Paradise 8:41
9. John Coltrane - Ogunde 5:27

Billy Cobham - 1974 [2008] "Total Eclipse" [24bit Remastered]

Total Eclipse is the third album of fusion drummer Billy Cobham. The album was released in 1974. It comprises eight songs, all composed by Billy Cobham. The album peaked number 6 in the Billboard Jazz album charts, number 12 in the R&B album charts and number 36 in the Billboard 200 charts.

This is Billy Cobham's third solo recording under his own name and is a fine follow-up to Crosswinds. The mini-suite "Solarization" not only showcases the band's technical abilities, but also Cobham's strong compositional skills. It also features a schizophrenic piano solo ("Second Phase") from the underrated pianist Milcho Leviev, who sounds like a mutation of Cecil Taylor and Bill Evans. The funky "Moon Germs," on which John Abercrombie is pushed to inspiring new heights, became a Cobham classic. "The Moon Ain't Made of Green Cheese" is a beautiful flugelhorn solo by Randy Brecker backed by Cobham's debut on piano. The band stretches out on the lengthy "Sea of Tranquility," while "Last Frontier" is a gratuitous drum solo. This recording is highly recommended as Cobham still sounds inspired. 

Considering that 1974's 'Total Eclipse' is Mr.Cobham's third studio recording (and was already in pretty heady company in his catalog even when it came out) this is a likely candidate for Cobham's best album and trust me I have heard most of them.Why?Because with the exception of the closing "Last Frontier" (a drum solo) this album is basically devoid of alot of flashy bombastic drumming on Cobham's part.Just great use of sustained intensity on the wonderful "Solarization" suite.

The title concepts for most of these tunes refer to various astronomical phenomenon.And in the case of the ultra funky "Lunarputians" just an excuse to use aliens as an excuse to groove (a concept later used with vocals by a guy named George Clinton).Some elements of this album are very heavily jazzy such as "Sea Of Tranquillity" and the title track emphasizes one of the most important parts of this albums appeal-the tunes here are some of the all time best compositions Cohbam has created.

It wasn't exactly a bad thing either that Billy had the help of 'The Billy Cohbam Players' as they are credited.These players include John Abercrombie,the Brecker's, and the magnificant Alex Blake on bass.And I say that funnily in tribute to some community radio DJ's in my neck of the woods playing acoustic jazz who love to list EACH band member followed by the instrument they play.They probably would never play an album like this on their shows but if I had a radio show I sure would play this....okay MASTERPIECE and proudly list the musicians and what they play because without Billy AND the mutual collaberation of these great artists this album would'nt be exactly what it was.Integrity at it's finest!

When I first heard this album, the musicianship of Cobham and Co. blew me away. This is some of the tightest, well-written fusion material ever presented to the jazz-buying public. I have been waiting for them to release this on CD since CDs were invented!
You cannot go wrong with this album if you are a fan of the fusion movement of the 70's. I would rank this and some of the other Cobham albums above even McLaughlin and Mahavishnu orchestra in terms of ground-breaking musicianship and technical perfection! 

Cobham is the best drummer and on this album he shows his composing ability. Total Eclipse is by far the best in the Cobham collection in my book. John Abercrombie's guitar work is great and the opening piece will leave you on the edge of your seat. There's a little funk and a little jazz and a whole lotta great drumming throughout. GET THIS MUSIC IN YOUR HANDS!!!!

Tracks Listing:

1. Solarization: Solarization/Second Phase/Crescent Sun/Voyage/Solarization-Recapitulation (11:10)
2. Lunarputians (2:33)
3. Total Eclipse (5:59)
4. Bandits (2:30)
5. Moon Germs (4:54)
6. The Moon Ain't Made Of Green Cheese (0:58)
7. Sea Of Tranquility (10:44)
8. Last Frontier (5:22)

Total Time: 44:10


    John Abercrombie – electric & ovation guitars
    Michael Brecker – flute, soprano & tenor saxes
    Randy Brecker – trumpet, flugelhorn
    Glenn Ferris – tenor & bass trombones
    Billy Cobham – traps, timpani, acoustic piano on "The Moon Ain't Made Of Green Cheese & "The Last Frontier"
    Milcho Leviev – keyboards
    Alex Blake – electric bass

Additional musicians

    David Earle Johnson – congas on "Solarization" & "Moon Germs"
    Sue Evan – marimba on "Solarization"
    Cornell Dupree – first guitar solo on "Moon Germs"

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Frank Zappa - 1969 [1995] "Hot Rats"

Hot Rats is the second solo album by Frank Zappa. It was released in October 1969. Five of the six songs are instrumental ("Willie the Pimp" features a short vocal by Captain Beefheart). It was Zappa's first recording project after the dissolution of the original Mothers of Invention. In his original sleeve notes Zappa described the album as "a movie for your ears."
Because Hot Rats largely consists of instrumental jazz-influenced compositions with extensive soloing, the music sounds very different from earlier Zappa albums, which featured satirical vocal performances with extensive use of musique concrète and editing. Multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood is the only member of the Mothers to appear on the album and was the primary musical collaborator. Other featured musicians were Max Bennett and a 16-year old Shuggie Otis on bass, drummers John Guerin, Paul Humphrey and Ron Selico, and electric violinists Don "Sugarcane" Harris and Jean-Luc Ponty.
This was the first Frank Zappa album recorded on 16-track equipment and one of the first albums to use this technology. Machines with 16 individual tracks allow for much more flexibility in multi-tracking and overdubbing than the professional 4- and 8-track reel-to-reel tape recorders that were standard in 1969.
The album was dedicated to Zappa's newborn son, Dweezil Zappa. In February 2009, Dweezil's tribute band to his father's musical legacy, Zappa Plays Zappa, won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for their rendition of "Peaches en Regalia."
In the Q & Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album came #13 in its list of "40 Cosmic Rock Albums". It was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. This is Official Release #8.

Zappa composed, arranged and produced the album himself. His primary instrument on the album is lead guitar. "Willie the Pimp", "Son of Mr. Green Genes", and "The Gumbo Variations" are showcases for his powerful and unconventional solo guitar performances. Four of the tracks have intricately arranged charts featuring multiple overdubs by Ian Underwood. Underwood plays the parts of approximately eight to ten musicians, often simultaneously. His work includes complicated sections of piano and organ, as well as multiple flutes, clarinets and saxophones.
The song "Peaches en Regalia" is widely recognized as a modern jazz fusion standard and is one of Zappa's best-known songs. Zappa plays a short solo on an instrument credited as an octave-bass, which is a conventional bass guitar recorded at half-speed so it sounds an octave higher in normal speed playback. When one listens to the song, it is apparent that many other instruments were also recorded at half-speed: organ, reed instruments, percussion. Underwood contributes flute and multiple saxophone, clarinet and keyboard parts. Zappa later re-recorded the song several times in live performances. It has been re-interpreted by many other jazz and rock artists, including Phish, the Dixie Dregs, and Frogg Café.
"Willie the Pimp" is a rock tune which features a vocal by Zappa's longtime friend and collaborator Captain Beefheart. It has violin by Don "Sugarcane" Harris and guitar solos by Zappa in what appear to be loose jams, though the performances were edited before release. The title Hot Rats comes from the lyric of this song.
"Son of Mr. Green Genes" is an instrumental re-arrangement of the song Mr. Green Genes from the Mothers album Uncle Meat. The unusual title of this song led to an urban legend that Frank Zappa was related to the character Mr. Green Jeans from the television show Captain Kangaroo. This is the only song on the album to feature both intricate horn charts and extended guitar solo sections.
"Little Umbrellas" is similar in style to "Peaches", another short carefully arranged tune with numerous keyboard and wind overdubs by Underwood.
"The Gumbo Variations" also is a jam performance that features a tenor saxophone solo by Underwood and some intricate electric violin playing by Don "Sugarcane" Harris in addition to a guitar solo by Zappa. The CD issue is a longer version containing portions that were edited for the LP. It includes a brief spoken segment at the beginning where Zappa's voice is heard instructing the musicians on how he wants them to start the tune.
"It Must Be a Camel" is also an intricately arranged tune with numerous wind and keyboard overdubs by Underwood. The very unusual melody of this song is highly rhythmic and often makes large melodic leaps. The title may come from the fact that these leaps resemble "humps" when written on paper. The recording contains a violin performance by Jean-Luc Ponty.
A recording from the Hot Rats sessions titled Bognor Regis was set to be released on the B-side of an edited version of "Sharleena", a track from the 1970 Zappa album Chunga's Revenge. The single release was canceled; however, an acetate disc copy was leaked to the public and the track has appeared on Zappa bootlegs. The song was named after a town on the south coast of England. Musically it's a basic blues instrumental with electric violin solo by Don "Sugarcane" Harris. Another track recorded during these sessions, titled "Twenty Small Cigars", was later released on Chunga's Revenge.

Aside from the experimental side project Lumpy Gravy, Hot Rats was the first album Frank Zappa recorded as a solo artist sans the Mothers, though he continued to employ previous musical collaborators, most notably multi-instrumentalist Ian Underwood. Other than another side project -- the doo wop tribute Cruising With Ruben and the Jets -- Hot Rats was also the first time Zappa focused his efforts in one general area, namely jazz-rock. The result is a classic of the genre. Hot Rats' genius lies in the way it fuses the compositional sophistication of jazz with rock's down-and-dirty attitude -- there's a real looseness and grit to the three lengthy jams, and a surprising, wry elegance to the three shorter, tightly arranged numbers (particularly the sumptuous "Peaches en Regalia"). Perhaps the biggest revelation isn't the straightforward presentation, or the intricately shifting instrumental voices in Zappa's arrangements -- it's his own virtuosity on the electric guitar, recorded during extended improvisational workouts for the first time here. His wonderfully scuzzy, distorted tone is an especially good fit on "Willie the Pimp," with its greasy blues riffs and guest vocalist Captain Beefheart's Howlin' Wolf theatrics. Elsewhere, his skill as a melodist was in full flower, whether dominating an entire piece or providing a memorable theme as a jumping-off point. In addition to Underwood, the backing band featured contributions from Jean-Luc Ponty, Lowell George, and Don "Sugarcane" Harris, among others; still, Zappa is unquestionably the star of the show. Hot Rats still sizzles; few albums originating on the rock side of jazz-rock fusion flowed so freely between both sides of the equation, or achieved such unwavering excitement and energy.

Tracks Listing

1. Peaches en Regalia (3:39)
2. Willie the Pimp (9:23)
3. Son of Mr. Green Genes (8:57)
4. Little Umbrellas (3:09)
5. The Gumbo Variations (16:55)
6. It Must Be A Camel (5:17)

Total Time: 43:11

Line-up / Musicians

- Frank Zappa / guitar, octave bass, percussion, arranger & producer

- Captain Beefheart / vocals (2)
- Lowell George (uncredited) / rhythm guitar
- Ian Underwood / piano, organ, flutes, clarinets, saxes
- Don 'Sugarcane' Harris / electric violin (2,5)
- Jean-Luc Ponty / electric violin (6)
- Max Bennett / bass
- Shuggy Otis / bass (1)
- Ron Selico / drums (1)
- John Guerin / drums (2,4,6)
- Paul Humphrey / drums (3,5)